Joywave 6/20/16

(a) setlist

    1. Destruction
    2. In Clover
    3. Feels Like a Lie
    4. Parade
    5. Now
    6. Alice
    7. Nice House
    8. True Grit
    9. Traveling at the Speed of Light
    10. Golden State
    11. Bad Dreams
    12. Somebody New
    13. Life in a Bubble I Blew

Encore:

  1. Tongues
  2. Destruction

(b) highlights

  • I really just love how Joywave doesn’t give a shit about 90% of anything ever going on
  • “Golden State”!!! one of my favs from the band’s first EP Koda Vista
  • I’ve noticed in the recent past that, as a band, Joywave has developed a bit of a chip on their shoulder since the release of their last album How Do You Feel Now?, which I mentioned in previous reviews, but I didn’t feel that too much at this show; in fact, the band felt pretty genuine and happy to be performing – that was great
  • this setlist was ace – loved it from beginning to end

(c) lowlights

  • playing “Destruction” twice is still hilarious after about two years of this schtick going on, but…I like “Tongues” and I want to hear the whole thing; for the second time live, Joywave has cut “Tongues” in half to interject “Destruction” a second time and I’m hoping this will be the last time
  • the median age of the average concert-goer at this event was roughly 16 and I don’t know why
  • the Music Hall of Williamsburg is such a garbage venue – how does a MUSIC hall continually have SOUND issues??? like, every show???

(d) overall thoughts

Joywave have grown quite a bit in the past year or so. I feel privileged to have seen Joywave a little less than a dozen times now over the last three years, so I’m pretty confident in thinking that their best days are ahead of them. They’re fun, solid performers who know how to take control of the audience and set the mood quickly and assertively.

Because they’ve opened for and toured with so many different bands – Bleachers, Betty Who, Silversun Pickups, Foals, Brandon Flowers, Kopps – their audiences at every show seem to be wildly different. This Music Hall of Williamsburg show in particular had a very, very young audience with only about half having seen the band before. Marketing can do a lot, right?

Essentially, the energy was high, the setlist was great, and baring a few sound issues, Joywave was fantastic. They mentioned they were recording for their next album, which can only mean good things, and I definitely will go out of my way to catch them again.

 

Bottom line: If you like solid tunes, sassy frontmen with bad facial hair, and a good time, check out Joywave. Or The Killers circa the 2006 Sam’s Town era – both aptly apply.

The Cure 6/18/16

(a) setlist

    1. Plainsong
    2. Pictures of You
    3. Closedown
    4. A Night Like This
    5. Push
    6. In Between Days
    7. Doing The Unstuck
    8. Friday I’m in Love
    9. Like Cockatoos
    10. The Caterpillar
    11. The Walk
    12. Lovesong
    13. Just Like Heaven
    14. Jupiter Crash
    15. Want
    16. The Hungry Ghost
    17. Prayers for Rain
    18. Disintegration

Encore:

  1. It Can Never Be the Same
  2. Pornography

Encore 2:

  1. Step Into the Light
  2. Us or Them
  3. Burn

Encore 3:

  1. Last Dance
  2. Lullaby
  3. Never Enough
  4. Fascination Street

Encore 4:

  1. The Perfect Girl
  2. Hot Hot Hot!!!
  3. Close to Me
  4. Why Can’t I Be You?
  5. Boys Don’t Cry

(b) highlights

  • The Cure. Madison Square Garden. 4 encores. WHAT.
  • I can’t even really discuss this setlist, like how freaking incredible is this band
  • “Pictures of You” is one of my favorite songs of all time – I love it so much that I can’t even listen to it that often; seeing that shit live feels like an out-of-body experience
  • Disintegration is probably my favorite Cure album and I’m always so pleasantly surprised when “Disintegration” pops up in the setlist…I love that song so freaking much, wow
  • the crowd was so freaking great, like wow – even in the upper level seats, everyone was so into everything going on: old songs and new songs alike
  • this really doesn’t even need to be said but Robert Smith is so amazing and perfect and still sounds freaking great and looks like the coolest vampire of all time, I want to hug him; he looks like he gives great hugs

(c) lowlights

  • apparently my section – 224 – was freaking BUMPIN’ because two separate fights broke out that involved security and drunk people and it was all actually pretty funny, to be honest; the crowd was mostly middle-aged and it was so just amusing to see that combination of drunk-emotional people
  • I would’ve liked to hear “Let’s Go to Bed” or “The Love Cats” but I am SERIOUSLY reaching, this show was phenomenal

(d) overall thoughts

I feel like there’s no band like The Cure. They defined an era of music, created a subculture, and then redefined their own identity twice over all in about a decade and half’s time. The work they put into the 80’s and 90’s is still incredible to think about and it’s pretty clear to me that Robert Smith is an inarguable genius.

I have seen The Cure once before – at Lollapalooza 2013 – but this Madison Square Garden show felt very special. They played 4 sold-out nights – nearly 3 hours of non-stop music each night – and it was so obvious to me that their discography could easily allow the band to perform for another week. Playing a combination of classic singles, deep cuts, rarities previously unheard for years, and even new (!) songs, the band totally nailed it. Each song’s performance felt connected to the one before it while also a uniquely pleasant experience in itself. The number of times I thought, “Wow, I totally forgot about this great song” were innumerable, and the emotional moments in tow were endless.

The stage set-up, production, and atmosphere were so quintessentially The Cure in every way – dripping lights, dense fog, and black trestles offset by bright white lights brought forth the gothic vibe while Robert Smith’s in-between song banter reminded everyone that he’s an older man now, but no less interesting, talented, or funny than he was in the band’s heyday. The crowd’s vigor and excitement barely waned over the nearly-three-hour performance and everyone knew to the words to all the classics. Few things beat the feeling of singing along to “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Friday I’m in Love,” and “Close to Me” with 20,000 fans. You just couldn’t leave that night without feeling what it seemed everyone had felt: that The Cure are a freaking amazing band with an untouchable, transcendent discography that sounds just as good in 2016 as it did in 1986.

Bottom line: Robert Smith is an angelic vampire, the Cure’s discography is truly unrivaled in vastness, diversity, and quality, and every performance removes all doubts otherwise.

Arctic Monkeys 2/8/14

(a) setlist

    1. Do I Wanna Know?
    2. Brianstorm
    3. Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I Moved Your Chair
    4. Snap Out of It
    5. Crying Lightning
    6. Old Yellow Bricks
    7. Fireside
    8. Knee Socks
    9. Why Do You Only Call Me When You’re High?
    10. Arabella
    11. Dancing Shoes
    12. Pretty Visitors
    13. I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
    14. Cornerstone
    15. I Wanna Be Yours
    16. Fluorescent Adolescent
    17. 505 (w/ Miles Kane)

Encore:

  1. All My Loving (w/ Miles Kane) (The Beatles cover)
  2. One For The Road
  3. R U Mine?

(b) highlights

  • dayyyummm that setlist! “Old Yellow Bricks!” “FIRESIDE!” “Cornerstone!” “505!” Miles Kane!! The Beatles cover!!
  • seeing this show from the seats to avoid the excruciating AM fans in the pit and consequently having the best mini concert in our seats ever
  • despite my previous point, I’ve been an AM fan since the band’s first album, so it was a proud moment for me to see the band sell-out Madison Square Garden – that was cool
  • for real though, this setlist was amazing and it was cool seeing Miles Kane join the guys

(c) lowlights

  • Alex Turner’s persona post-Humbug is so painful and contrived and man, some of that in-between song banter is next level bad; don’t do drugs, kids
  • did we really need “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I Moved Your Chair”? did we? can we even talk about that song title, or is that not even worth our time?
  • AM-era fans
  • why do AM take so long in-between songs? where is there always 20 seconds of dead silence? are they all checking the setlist and reapplying hair gel or something. I feel like I’m the only person who’s ever noticed that this band does this.

(d) overall thoughts

For the past few years, I’ve had to defend being an Arctic Monkeys fan and it was only during the band’s tour for their fifth album AM did I realize why. Through a combination of insufferable Tumblr fans, Alex Turner getting a stupid haircut, buckets of hair gel, and motorcycles, the band became associated with a bunch of garbage that had nothing to do with their music. Putting all that aside, I’ve loved pretty much every Arctic Monkeys album a ton (except for maybe Suck It and See…) and knew I wasn’t gonna miss this show at Madison Square Garden. And I’m so glad I went.

Sitting in the seats was a great decision for many reasons, but it pretty much forced the visuals and audience to fall to the wayside and for the music alone to stand out. There are so many strong AM singles and deep cuts that endless combination of setlists could be compiled, and while I would’ve never thought to put together so many of these songs together, the result was extraordinary. Four out of the first five songs are from four different Arctic Monkeys albums – it’s such a subtle move, but so few bands would actually do something like that. “Do I Wanna Know?” sets an incredible mood, “Brianstorm” always gets everyone going, “Snap Out Of It” is perfect for snap-dance coordinated moves, and “Crying Lightning” is a slick, guitar-heavy banger – what more could you ask for in the first 12 minutes of a show?

I was most excited to hear “Fireside” – my absolute favorite track from AM, and it didn’t disappoint. Old classics like “Old Yellow Bricks” and “Dancing Shoes” reminded me of my favorite days of the band and my high school days. “Cornerstone” is probably one of my favorite Arctic Monkeys songs of all time and it felt so special to hear it that night. Speaking of special, having the band’s old pal and Last Shadow Puppets’ member Miles Kane show up for another one of my favorites “505” was amazingFavourite Worst Nightmare is my favorite AM album and I loved how many songs the band played from it that night.

The Beatles cover was freaking awesome and a great way to celebrate the Beatles’ 50th anniversary of coming to America and unleashing the perfection that led to Beatlesmania. It felt meaningful alongside the band’s selling out of the arena, having come so far as a band and as performers. I tease Alex and complain about fans, but I love them and this night was big for them. I won’t ever forget that.

Bottom line: Arctic Monkeys have gotten particularly silly as a band in the last several years, and while it’s easy as all hell to call them out on their nonsense, their music is still totally killing it; they have huge songs and put on a great show, and this was one of their best.

arcticmonkeysmsgfeb2014

Note: I filmed a video of “All My Loving,” but it’s mostly me being a spazz and I think my computer ate it, so here’s someone else’s:

Albert Hammond Jr. 1/10/14

(a) setlist

    1. St. Justice
    2. Everyone Gets a Star
    3. Scared
    4. GfC
    5. Carnal Cruise
    6. In Transit
    7. Postal Blowfish (Guided By Voices cover)
    8. Holiday
    9. Cooker Ship
    10. Hard To Live in The City
    11. Strange Tidings
    12. Rude Customers
    13. Blue Skies
    14. Last Caress (The Misfits cover)

(b) highlights

  • first time seeing Albert Hammond Jr.!
  • was a fan of AHJ for years before catching this show – was quite pleasantly surprised how incredible he sounded live – exactly like the album
  • the lighting and stage set-up was really cool, especially considering AHJ was opening for Jake Bugg at this show
  • Yours To Keep was one of my favorite albums in high school, so I was thrilled with how many songs he played from it, especially “Scared”

(c) lowlights

  • I’m still sort of annoyed years later that AHJ opened for Jake Bugg?? that should’ve been reversed, obviously
  • the crowd was overwhelmingly there for Jake Bugg – a fact that still confuses me

(d) overall thoughts

As I mentioned, this was my first time seeing Albert Hammond Jr. live and he exceeded every expectation possible. The stage set-up was cool with a handful of free-standing red lights surrounding Albert and his phenomenal back-up band. For some reason, someone thought it would make sense for AHJ to open for Jake Bugg, who – at the time – had one album out that apparently became huge thanks to the young, Tumblr crowd. The audience that night was very young and clearly there for Jake Bugg, but I had a good time regardless.

I first heard Albert’s song “Scared” when it was included on a free disc from Q magazine or Uncut sometime in 2007 or 2008, and I’ve been a fan ever since. That fact made it that much cooler when he actually played that song and it sounded pristine, clear, and exactly as I always wanted to hear it. Even though the crowd and setting weren’t ideal, it made me love AHJ more and want to thoroughly explore his later works Como Te Llama? and AHJ, which had recently come out at this time. Like, how amazing is “St. Justice”? And how cinematic and beautiful is that video? Instant classic.

 

Bottom line: Albert Hammond Jr. is an incredible songwriter and lively performer; everything about his performance feels effortless – and that’s the most triumphant part.

The Killers, HAIM 6/4/16

(i) lineup

1a. HAIM
2b. The Killers

(1a) (HAIM’s) setlist

    1. If I Could Change Your Time
    2. Don’t Save Me
    3. I Would Die 4 U (Prince cover)
    4. Forever
    5. Honey & I
    6. Give Me Just a Little of Your Love
    7. My Song 5
    8. Nothing’s Wrong
    9. The Wire
    10. Falling

(1b) highlights

  • pretty cool seeing HAIM for the first time
  • I’d only heard a couple of HAIM songs before this and didn’t know what to expect – they were definitely more high energy and enjoyable than I thought!
  • it’s stupid that I even have to say this, but it’s really awesome to see a modern rock band entirely composed of women who actually know how to play their instruments
  • there’s nothing I love more than watching a musician get lost in their own music and Este Haim’s bass face epitomizes that so hard

(1c) lowlights

  • it started raining maybe 4 or 5 songs in – just a little rain at first and then the sky.opened.up; the rain was so bad that I had to open my umbrella and duck down so the hardcore HAIM fan behind me could see…which means I watched the rest of the show from underneath the umbrella and staring at the barricade – it sounded good, I guess
  • no, seriously, that rain was freaking awful, you don’t understand

(1d) overall thoughts

As I mentioned, I had very little knowledge of HAIM’s discography before this show, but I had heard good things about their live show. I always thought their band story was pretty cool – three sisters who grew up in my hometown and ended up getting huge with cool tunes. Into it. I had heard about their live show and schtick through osmosis, so I was intrigued to actually see them.

Their Fleetwood-Mac-with-an-edge vibe was cool, made sense, and definitely enjoyable. HAIM’s live performance definitely elevated their otherwise merely adequate songs. The girls’ energy, audience interaction, and occasionally coordinated dance moves made for a good show, but couldn’t hold up in the rain for me. A large part of me wishes it had never rained so I could give my full attention to them, but….yeah, that rain was bad and I was there for The Killers, guys.

 

Bottom line: It’s no surprise that HAIM is as big as they are; it’s awesome that they’re cool chicks doing their hippie-chic thing, if only it hadn’t started rain so intensely, they might’ve won me over completely.

(2a) (The Killers’) setlist

    1. Mr. Brightside
    2. Spaceman
    3. The Way It Was
    4. Smile Like You Mean It
    5. Bling (Confession of a King)
    6. Shot at the Night
    7. Human
    8. Somebody Told Me
    9. Glamorous Indie Rock ‘n’ Roll
    10. Obstacle 1 (Interpol cover)
    11. For Reasons Unknown
    12. A Dustland Fairytale
    13. Can’t Help Falling In Love (Elvis Presley cover)
    14. Read My Mind
    15. Runaways
    16. All These Things That I’ve Done

Encore:

  1. This Is Your Life
  2. Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
  3. When You Were Young

(2b) highlights

  • it rained for two god awful hours and then stopped exactly 5 minutes before the band went onstage; g o d  b l e s s
  • Obstacle 1!!!! Interpol!!! Killing it!!!
  • Damn, “Shot at the Night” and “Glamorous Indie Rock ‘n’ Roll,” sounded so good; sometimes songs you’ve heard a million times hit you just right
  • Ronnie Vannucci’s face, Dave Keuning singing “I got soul, but I’m not a soldier” into Brandon’s mic, and pink blazers are best; Ted Sablay’s guitar work on “Obstacle 1” was top-notch, as well
  • that Elvis cover is so beautiful, it’s almost obnoxious; like when something is so sweet and wonderful that it destroys you
  • fun fact: the “This Is Your Life” hand wave can cure almost any illness
  • the crowd didn’t suck, no one crowd-surfed, and 25,000 people stayed through the rain – I was shocked and so, so proud of the crowd for sticking around

(2c) lowlights

  • two. hours. of. constant. rain.
  • everyone was soaked, multiple friends lost their phones to rain damage, and people were seriously crying out there in the rain – a lot of my stuff was ruined and everyone was so miserable before the set started, but we stayed; it would’ve been nice of the band to say something along the lines of “thanks for staying” or “sorry you’re all wet,” but it’s okay
  • I miss Mark Stoermer, I need Mark Stoermer, I want Mark Stoermer, please someone anyone bring back Mark Stoermer, you are the light of my life and your absence is the size of Nevada in my heart </3 I respect his wishes to take a break, but I miss him so, so much </3

(2d) overall thoughts

Picture it: it’s around 7 pm, the sun has disappeared behind gray clouds, and the sky opens up like a monsoon. It wasn’t even supposed to rain that day. In less than 10 minutes, everything you own is soaking wet and there’s nowhere to go, nothing to put on, nowhere to hide. And there’s still over two hours until The Killers come on-stage. More. than. two. hours. Then, around 9:10, the rain stops. And at 9:15, The Killers come out with Mr. Brightside – it felt like a goddamn baptism, I swear to God.

The show was great – it always is. The crowd was overwhelming in a good way, the band had their usual raw, festival-level energy, and the sound was great. Brandon came into a few lines late and Ronnie missed a few beats, but almost no one noticed. Dave looked happy to be there and it felt like such a treat to hear “Glamorous Indie Rock ‘n’ Roll” live at a festival for the first time in like 8 years. I’ve been an Interpol fan for as long as I’ve loved The Killers, so it was awesome to hear “Obstacle 1” in that setting – the cover itself felt so developed and clearly not thrown together at the last minute (a couple of TK covers have felt this way…). The lights were cool and I appreciated that TK paid tribute to Interpol and the NYC music scene while still definitely making the song their own.

I won’t lie and pretend like it wasn’t completely devastating to see The Killers perform without bassist Mark Stoermer. I was in the front and closer to Mark’s usual side of the stage, so his absence was even more obvious to me. I absolutely still had an incredible time and will always love this band so much, but I never forgot that Mark wasn’t there. I hope he comes back soon and knows how much people care about him. I hope he’s happy.

 

Bottom line: Rain can crush souls, but The Killers are particularly good at reviving them. We miss you, Mark Stoermer.

 

The Strokes, Bloc Party, Father John Misty 6/3/16

(i) lineup

1a. Father John Misty
2b. Bloc Party
3c. The Strokes

(1a) (Father John Misty’s) setlist

    1. Hollywood Forever Cemetary Sings
    2. When You’re Smiling and Astride Me
    3. Only Son of the Ladiesman
    4. Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)
    5. Bored in the USA
    6. Holy Shit
    7. True Affection
    8. I Love You, Honeybear
    9. The Ideal Husband

(1b) highlights

  • ommgggggggg, Father John Mistyyyyyyyyyy
  • I had been looking forward to this show for months and was so not disappointed; I finally listened to I Love You, Honeybear towards the end of last year and WOW, what a phenomenal album
  • I seriously lost my shit when “Chateau Lobby #4” started; that song is flawless from beginning to end, done
  • not only was this setlist such a surprise and presented in such a fresh order, but Josh Tillman’s self-awareness and meta-modern approach to each song’s presentation in itself was so stupidly entertaining
  • to quote my friend who knows very little about FJM: “I didn’t know a man could move his hips that way” – what a show
  • “I Love You, Honeybear” and “The Ideal Husband” coupled together were like the two most energetic and beautiful pairings of live performance, god, I can’t underscore how good this was
  • (side note: Danny Masterson from That 70’s Show was on the side of the stage? what a bizarre world we live in)

(1c) lowlights

  • basically nothing whatsoever, except maybe the one douchebag in the crowd would was unnecessarily mean to everyone around him

(1d) overall thoughts

I was always a fan of Fleet Foxes and was hesitant in approaching Father John Misty at first. I tend to be turned-off by general folk music and even more turned off when people seriously cite Bob Dylan as an influence, but Father John Misty is so much more than that. It’s complex but FJM aka Josh Tillman is so highly aware of what it means to be a musician, and specifically a folk musician who’s white and male and has a long beard, and subverts all of that with his performance and mocking lyrics. I freaking love it so much.

Tillman plays up his strengths and his incredibly underrated backing band knows exactly when to drive it home and when to let Tillman shine. His super fresh setlist and uninhibited performance let the audience “in” on the self-aware joke that the band is apparently telling. That’s really the important thing that separates FJM from other groups that try to be as self-aware (Joywave comes to mind) – as a member of the audience, you never feel like FJM is mocking you; he’s mocking the whole subgenre, the whole performance, and the whole idea of it, but you’re in on the joke yourself. It’s great. And oh, the songs themselves are incredible – you can’t ever forget that.

Bottom line: Father John Misty was so freaking incredible, that I wish I could follow that dude around for the rest of his tour. Amazing songs that shouldn’t work in a festival setting become so elevated through a self-aware performance that it’s no wonder how massive the crowd was that day at Governor’s Ball.

(2a) (Bloc Party’s) setlist

    1. Hunting For Witches
    2. Positive Tension
    3. Virtue
    4. Exes
    5. Song For Clay (Disappear Here)
    6. Banquet
    7. The Love Within
    8. Mercury
    9. Flux (w/ Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U” intro)
    10. This Modern Love
    11. Like Eating Glass
    12. Octopus
    13. Helicopter
    14. Ratchet

(2b) highlights

  • t h a t  s e t l i s t  wtfffffff
  • “Like Eating Glass”!!! I lost it!!!! “This Modern Love”!!! what!! “Mercury”!!! dead!
  • for real, though – what an incredible array of songs, I was so shocked at the inclusion of so much of Silent Alarm
  • the band had so much energy – Kele mentioned it was the last stop of their American tour – and it seriously made all the difference in the world
  • the Prince cover was kinda great – last time I saw Bloc Party they covered Bowie, which was better, but “I Would Die 4 U” was super cool too
  • not one but TWO different girls threw their bras toward the stage, I have never laughed so hard in my entire life, did they not know that Kele is gay, I literally could not breathe, god that was freaking amazing

(2c) lowlights

  • this set was seriously so good; there was nothing bad about it

(2d) overall thoughts

I saw Bloc Party for the first time only a few months ago after loving them for over 10 years, and that show didn’t quite live up to my expectations. But I knew this performance was on the horizon and I wanted to give Bloc Party a second chance. And this Governor’s Ball performance was so much better in every way. Kele Okereke was in good spirits, the whole band had great energy, and the setlist was much less uneven.

The crowd was overwhelmingly into every song – not only the hits – and every song felt so special. I’ve heard “Like Eating Glass” come up on my shuffle a dozen times over the last few months and I never thought Bloc Party would ever play it, especially at a festival, so it was that much more of a shock when that drum beat started. Is it still a bit sad that drummer Matt Tong and bassist Gordon Moakes are gone? Yeah, but those songs are elevated above that band drama. Bloc Party are incredible and this performance is definitely one I’ll never forget.

Bottom line: This Gov Ball show totally killed and the band definitely vindicated themselves for me personally; the crowd was awesome and, come on, two girls actually threw their bras onstage – what a time to be alive!

(3a) (The Strokes’) setlist

    1. The Modern Age
    2. Soma
    3. The Threat of Joy
    4. What Ever Happened?
    5. Under Cover of Darkness
    6. Alone, Together
    7. Electricityscape
    8. Ask Me Anything
    9. Take It Or Leave It
    10. Drag Queen
    11. Someday
    12. Red Light
    13. Clampdown (The Clash cover)
    14. Heart in a Cage
    15. Last Nite
    16. Trying Your Luck
    17. Reptilia
    18. Hard to Explain
    19. Juicebox

Encore:

  1. You Only Live Once

(3b) highlights

  • the last third of the setlist when The Strokes remembered that they’re the goddamn Strokes and no one but Strokes apologists care about Angles or Comedown Machine
  • actually taking it easy during this show and laying in the grass at Randall’s Island with my best friends, eyes closed, hearing the literal songs of my youth echo across miles of a New York City island
  • having our own dance party during the last 5 or so songs – air drumming and playing on-point air guitar and singing along with 4 other friends – putting on our own version of The Strokes (I alternated between being Albert and Fab <3) – so, so much fun hearing those classic songs again
  • everyone loves fireworks

(3c) lowlights

  • Julian Casablancas: “so, uh, we never play encores – we didn’t for our first three albums…and we didn’t the other night. and all these assholes booed us. so whatever, here’s our encore. are there even other bands playing here? whatever, I guess have fun. goodnight.” (I’m paraphrasing but BARELY. “Are there even other bands playing here?” I love you, Julian, but damn you’re a douche. Albert was literally performing his solo material the next day. And it was Friday. Did you really think this was a one-day festival with you as the star?? Calling your own fans assholes for not playing an encore? Literally bye.)
  • when bands sell t-shirts with a specific song on it at a festival, but then don’t play that song (*cough* “New York City Cops” *cough*)

(3d) overall thoughts

Like any respectable alternative rock ‘n’ roll fan alive in the 2000’s, I love The Strokes. I actually saw them for the first time at the 2014 Governor’s Ball where they played a midday set, which now feels strangely odd to think about. I had a good time then, but I wasn’t overwhelmed by them. They had great songs and the crowd was super into it, but the band’s we-don’t-give-a-shit attitude was so put-on and I was over it. That affectation was very much present at this Gov Ball performance, but I expected it this time, so it didn’t rub me the wrong way.

I personally haven’t really liked much of The Strokes’ material since 2005’s First Impressions of Earth, which is sort of crazy because I remember a lot of people disliking that album when it came out. I don’t inherently think their earlier work is better because it’s their earlier work, I just wasn’t drawn to anything on Angles or Comedown Machine in a real way. Their newest EP Future Present Past does have hints of greatness, but I’ve overwhelmingly been partial to Albert Hammond Jr.’s work over the last decade.

Either way – regardless of Casablanca’s comments and the band generally looking like they don’t like performing or care about the audience – I had a good time. Those songs mean something to people and it was a pretty cool environment to watch all that happen. I enjoyed this performance more than the first time I saw them and I really think that proves that having friends around means something.

Bottom line: The Strokes are always gonna be The Strokes and that means something to different people. I hope the band keeps putting out new music and stops acting too cool for school, but we can all dream, right?

Foals 12/18/15

(a) setlist

  1. Snake Oil
  2. Olympic Airways
  3. My Number
  4. Blue Blood
  5. Providence
  6. London Thunder
  7. Spanish Sahara
  8. Red Socks Pugie
  9. Late Night
  10. A Knife in the Ocean
  11. Inhaler

Encore:

  1. Mountain at My Gates
  2. What Went Down
  3. Two Steps, Twice

(b) highlights

  • it was my first time seeing Foals, and they didn’t disappoint!
  • I went in knowing little of their discography, but felt like “My Number,” “What Went Down” and “Two Steps, Twice” were total standouts
  • really good crowd, everyone was into it – especially the 15-year-old moshing boys #eyeroll
  • as a Greek girl, I have to tip my hat to a fellow Greek lead singer bringing the strong eyebrows and ethnic name to rock ‘n’ roll, thanks Yannis Philippakis!

(c) lowlights

  • nothing outright was bad (except maybe the stupid, unnecessary high school mosh pit), but do I think Foals deserved NME’s Live Band of the Year award? definitely not.
  • oh wait, there was also a guy in front of me who quite literally filmed the ENTIRE SHOW

(d) overall thoughts

I had heard about Foals for quite awhile before this show. For some reason, nothing about the band really struck me as immediately needing to investigate their music right away. I read many album reviews and interviews with the lead Yannis Philippakis that somehow turned me off or never really pulled me to the band. I’d heard a couple of songs in passing and thought they were just alright. A few of my friends are really into Foals, however, so I thought I’d tag along.

Everyone’s favorite NME Magazine awarded Foals the Best Live Act in the world for 2015, so my expectations were high. I had heard stories of crowd surfing and general audience interaction, so I was ready for all of it. And most of that happened. Sort of. The band certainly had a presence and Yannis definitely crowd surfed at appropriate moments. He even climbed to Terminal 5’s second floor balcony and jumped into the crowd, which was mostly pretty funny. The crowd was into it and I thought it was all alright. But just alright. It mostly felt like the band was “going through the motions” with those crowd surfing moments, which is the most un-rock ‘n’ roll sentence anyone could ever type. I feel like there’s a strange fad of “crazy crowdsurfing” happening in music right now, and I can’t believe I have to say this, but just because you surf into the crowd, does not mean that your live performance is inherently more interesting.

Ultimately, I really did have a good time and enjoy myself. Like I said, I didn’t know much about the band’s specific songs, but I do remember “My Number,” “What Went Down,” and “Two Steps, Twice” as being complete standouts. They were catchy, fun, and memorable tunes in an otherwise pretty good night. No one in the band in particular stuck out to me, but I appreciate the stories that Foals seems to tell. They have their audience and their songs and I totally get it, even if it’s not 100% my cup of tea.

 

Bottom line: Foals definitely have some good songs and like to have fun, but they’re not exactly the greatest things since sliced bread. Solid 7.8/10 all-around. I might even round up to 8/10 just for Yannis’ eyebrows.

Ra Ra Riot 11/3/15

(a) setlist

  1. St. Peter’s Day Festival
  2. Too Dramatic
  3. Binary Mind
  4. Bad Times
  5. Can You Tell
  6. Oh, La
  7. Dance With Me
  8. Run My Mouth
  9. Angel, Please
  10. Water
  11. Run Away With Me (Carly Rae Jepsen cover)
  12. I Shut Off
  13. Ghost Under Rocks
  14. Beta Love

Encore:

  1. Foreign Lovers
  2. Boy

(b) highlights

  • this was my first time seeing Ra Ra Riot since 2007ish – total throwback seeing them again
  • the band was just as energetic as I remember, tons of fun and dancey
  • I freaking love Baby’s All Right, it was the perfect venue for this type of band
  • I’ve always had a strange connection to “Ghost Under Rocks” so it was great to hear that for the first time live in many, many years
  • it made me excited to see them again in the future – I hope they put out new great music soon

(c) lowlights

  • none at all

(d) overall thoughts

I first saw Ra Ra Riot open for The Cribs in LA back in 2007. I had never heard of them then, but I instantly fell in love. Their shows are always energetic, high-energy, and I always love seeing women on-stage in rock bands. I’ve loved how the combination of sweet vocals, exquisite strings, and catchy guitar hooks makes for all-around cool tunes.

Baby’s All Right is a cool, small venue in Brooklyn that really let Ra Ra Riot shine – the sound was great, the lights were perfectly complimentary, and the crowd was having a great time. It made me feel strangely warm inside to hear classics like “St. Peter’s Day Festival” and “Ghost Under Rocks” after all these years and realize that simultaneously the band has grown so much without changing much at all. Which is the highest compliment I could give. I would love to see Ra Ra Riot play on a big stage or at a festival and really let their fun, dancey vibe spread out and breathe a bit, but I’m definitely glad I could catch them in such a small, intimate place.

 

Bottom line: Ra Ra Riot is a ton of fun and a band I’m proud to say had grown quite a bit over the years; I wish them nothing but the best.

We Are Scientists 10/31/15

(a) setlist

Setlist.fm isn’t acknowledging that this was a real show, which is SO unfortunate because it was Halloween and I was dressed as Han Solo and wore a badass blaster holster – do you think I remember most of the setlist???

(b) highlights

  • despite neither me nor setlist.fm remembering what WAS played that night, I can say for sure that they played a 12-minute rendition of “Don’t Fear The Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult that was only about 3 minutes of actual music and 9 minutes of banter
  • it was Halloween, so everyone was dressed up – Keith, Chris, and drummer Keith all wore lady bug costumes (I know), but each with a little twist; Keith wore a crown, so was a lady bug king, Chris wore a sheriff star, so was a lady bug sheriff, and drummer Keith wore tie-dye and groovy glasses, so was a lady bug hippie – need I say more
  • they brought a dude wearing a business suit and unicorn head on-stage for a song, no really, need I say more
  • I live, literally LIVE for We Are Scientists on-stage banter, give Keith and Chris their own TV show I swear to God
  • the band was projecting a “scary” movie behind them the whole show, which was actually about zombies, sharks, and a topless deep sea diver – no, I’m not kidding, it was incredible

(c) lowlights

  • I think everyone in the entire venue, band included, was totally wasted

(d) overall thoughts

Halloween is always fun. We Are Scientists are always fun. This night was fun squared, trust me. Tickets were $6.66 and Rough Trade in Brooklyn is a fun venue with a built-in record store to boot. Whenever costumes, movie projections, and stopping mid-song about 15 times to instruct a dude dressed as the reaper to be “more scary” and “reap” members of the audience, are involved…you know it was a good show.

Shout out to the dude in the business suit wearing the unicorn mask and the woman by the bar playing the kazoo loud enough to bother Chris all night…you guys are the real heroes for prompting some of the best random stand-up comedy performed by a Brooklyn band I’ve ever seen. To quote Frankie Valli – oh what a night.

Bottom line: I remember more of this night than probably anyone else at the show because I’m pretty sure everyone was drunk, but more so than anything…We Are Scientists are the best.

Note: For some reason, this is the only photo I have of the whole night, which further suggests that this entire event was a bit of a fever dream.

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Cold War Kids 10/24/15

(a) setlist

  1. Don’t Let Your Love Grow Away From Me
  2. Hang Me Up To Dry
  3. One Song at a Time
  4. Hot Coals
  5. Thunderhearts
  6. All This Could Be Yours
  7. Audience
  8. First
  9. We Used to Vacation
  10. Miracle Mile
  11. Cold Toes on the Cold Floor
  12. Royal Blue
  13. Drive Desperate
  14. Every Man I Fall For
  15. Hospital Beds
  16. Something is Not Right With Me

Encore:

  1. Mexican Dogs
  2. Saint John

(b) highlights

  • Cold War Kids are the shiiiiiiiiit, man
  • CWK shows always feel stupid intimate, but this one in particular felt so incredibly special
  • the lighting was freaking cool – give the lighting guy a raise
  • seeing the band at their peak in popularity for an album that randomly gave them so much mainstream traction (Hold My Home) was awesome – you could tell they were having such a good time
  • something about this setlist in particular – perhaps the way they mixed in the classic hits with deeper cuts – felt wildly refreshing
  • they brought out a whole brass section for the encore – the horns took “Saint John” to a whole new level, I swear to God
  • Matt Maust – bassist extraordinaire and one of my favorite musicians all around – gave me the setlist at the end of the show; how freaking cool is that?! I still have that hanging in my bedroom

(c) lowlights

  • nothing, this band totally kills live; even Terminal 5 couldn’t bring me down

(d) overall thoughts

History has shown that I’ve seen Cold War Kids quite a few times – 3 or 4 times in 2015 alone, but this one had to be my favorite. Terminal 5 felt like their time to shine that night and the crowd was very much ready to be at their mercy. Hold My Home was doing so well with a younger and newer audience and it made me so proud of them. They’ve only gotten better as a live band and it’s made seeing them a complete joy.

Nathan Willett was in top-form and everyone was gelling together in that special Cold War Kids way; their jam band nature feels infectious. You can’t help but want to dance and move around with them. Everything from the production to the sound added to the intimacy of the evening and really kept everyone in the crowd present and alert. I remember “Hot Coals” in particular really hitting home – sometimes songs you’ve heard a million times gain new night when the band plays it just right.

I’ve always said that the band’s debut Robbers & Cowards is a truly perfect album, so of course I adore “Hospital Beds.” When the band brought out an awesome brass section to accompany them for the encore, I felt like I was experiencing the song for the first time. It’s such an amazing thing when a band you love so much and have seen so many times can still surprise you.

 

Bottom line: Any night seeing Cold War Kids is a beautiful night – their jam-band intimacy makes the audience feel like they’re part of the performance and their massive songs make that intimacy explode into stadiums jams. See them live. Please.